7-Personal thoughts/Experiences of COVID 19 (April 20, 2020)

7-Personal thoughts/Experiences of COVID 19 (April 20, 2020)
Personal thoughts/Experiences of COVID 19 (continuing thread and updated periodically)

It is over 35 years back I first started work with disaster mental health at Bhopal.

During the last 4 decades, I have learnt the following:
Disasters are a challenge for everybody.
• Disasters are experienced by each individual in his/her own way.
• There are as many ways of coping as there are individuals.
• Support of every type limits the suffering and long-term consequences.
• Every type of intervention, meeting needs, human support, music,
spirituality etc is helpful.

The availability of experiences can help others to understand, what they are experiencing, and not feel that they are alone in this situation.

It will also help the learn from other individuals experiences.

Further, it will also build an understanding the INDIANS response to the pandemic.

Please note that this is a compilation of experiences and opinions.

Please feel to share your thoughts/experiences through my mail:smurthy030@gmail.com
Your contributions will be added to the thread.


Personal Note:

The following 7 experiences are very special.
All the authors are doctors( of different specialities) and are in the early 70’s.
Let me share a secret.

We all studied together as medical students at C.M.C. Vellore (1964-1970).

It is a privilege to have known each one of them, and to read their experiences and thoughts.

In the 7 narratives, you will a see a wide range of thoughts relating to:
living in the present,
• anguish about human follies,
• the power of spirituality,
• a sense of gratitude,
• advice to the elderly based on half a century of medical experience and
• a sense of ‘opportunity to reflect on life and make the best of the times’.

My sincere thanks to all of them for sharing their perceptions of the challenging times.
R.Srinivasa Murthy

51.COVID 19 and me- Random ramblings – Prof.R.Raman, Kaula Lumpur, Malayasia.

It all started in December, became news in Jan, ignored by many, taken seriously only in March all over!!

Then panic button pressed, clamouring for equipment, lockdown everywhere, testing like mad (though the sensitivity is low). Squabble between politicians and medical experts, and difference of opinion even among medical experts – epidemiologists etc.

A scramble for the vaccine, non evidence based medicines.

Hospitals filled to the brim, people (old ones like me) dying like flies, coffin makers, mask makers, sanitizer, making money (every crisis some body makes money, by Dec movies will be made, novels and books will be written which will be best sellers.

Prayers have increased?

The word Karma being mentioned too often, when all things fail, god and spirituality are called upon, poor God so many requests, so little he/she can do!

Flattening the curve they say, which essentially means delay the prevalence/ incidence, till the health system has recovered from the onslaught, then lift the lockdown etc, etc await the next surge, which the hospitals and health personnel can cope with!

Again a lockdown of sorts and lift again, maybe three of this and by that time herd immunity will be achieved?!, or miraculously a vaccine? drug will be discovered?

A mad scramble for this by people and countries, drug companies will make money, hospitals will have a huge stock of all this by 2021 which no one will need? This will be lying in stores like Tamiflu!!

In the meantime,
Pollution is very low.
• One can see the Himalayas from Kanyakumari !!
• Crime rates are low, literally no robberies.
• People saving money by not eating out!
• Petrol prices low, but nowhere to go!!
• Domestic violence has increased!!
• Scammers have increased?

Personally, I have lived alone for many years, I cook, sew buttons etc( thanks to my mother ,God bless her soul) I am still working, yes ENT, taking as much precautions as I can, not worried about me getting it but I should not transmit to others.

Besides this COVID 19, there are other diseases that need attention too?!

Still following my college motto ‘Not to be ministered but to minister’.
I hope.

Income is very much down but it is ok. I have enough savings to tide me through till my lifetime (whenever that is), I don’t need a bail out.

I feel old people like me dying is acceptable, governments can save on the pensions, children can be relieved of their burden?!
Youth can rejuvenate the new order.

My only grouses now are:
My maid is staying at home, so cleaning, mopping, washing, ironing changing sheets, cushion covers are extra work.
I cannot see a couple of my friends and cannot travel to see more places and see my children,
My elder daughter Tuhina in Philadelphia is a respiratory physician / an ICU specialist and is at it in this epidemic!
My second daughter Nihara is in New Zealand and losing her business (hers is dependent on tourism).
Otherwise all OK in my milieu interior and exterior.

Cheers to all you guys, inshallah, till we will meet again here or elsewhere sometime?
Stay safe, do not divorce your spouse, commit suicide or murder anyone in these difficult times.
This too will pass!!

Poem by my daughter and granddaughter Tanvi sung to the tune of ‘’my favourite things’ on corona.
The corona song by the Raman household !
Gloves and masks and hand sanitizer
Lysol wipes and toilet paper
Handwashing from dawn to dusk
These are a few of my special things

Social distancing and home schooling
It is so boring and mother is ruling
Not seeing friends ever again
These are a few of my saddest things

When the nurses strike
When the doctors quit
When I’m feeling sick
I simply remember my special things
And then I get better real quick

I remember

Looking at the present situation, I am taken back to my grandparents stories and their ancient wisdom, most people died of some infection or other.

Hence the visit to their houses was limited, they covered their faces, and kept a distance, if the visit was due to death, they came back home and had a bath.

The house of the dead person was cleaned and washed.
No food was cooked in the house, others supplied the food,
No marriages (no shanti Muhurtham- honeymoon) because of genetic defects as a consequence in children who might have been born!
Not allowed to visit temples for the fear of infecting others, dead were cremated.
This continued until the epidemic came down.
There was no hugging and kissing in the culture anyway.

My father was left outside the house to ? die, he had smallpox!
Miraculously he survived to tell the tale.
Very few vaccinations those days in the 40’I had only small pox , BCG and yellow fever (for my Brazil trip)vaccinations, So I went through measles, chickenpox, mumps( without testicular atrophy!), typhoid, infective hepatitis.
Diphtheria, and croup, Cholera and malaria I escaped, mum had malaria in her childhood.

My generation was used to isolation, distancing and the works ( face covering, hand and feet washing- no water shortage those days) we managed to survive.

I note that management has not changed much!

Wonder if this is Darwin’s ‘natural selection of the species and survival of the fittest?’
And now this!! We will survive

(can sing the song- Gloria Gaynor?)

At last 72 years old

Yes, I am still alive!
As one of my friends put it-a palliative/ disposable age!!
Khalas, enough, bas, cukup
Porum, madhi, Basta.
Packed up, with a sarong,
T-Shirt, a few underwears, passport, cheque book, phone with emergency contact numbers and a Wallet, ready to take the Road less travelled!!( after the lockdown) with name tag!

Finally a quote

“Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.”

Julius Caesar, the greatest field commander of his time.
– William Shakespeare

See you when I see you.
52.The Pandemic and I by Dr. Roma Solomon, New Delhi.

Amazing, surreal, a once in a lifetime (Hopefully) experience, keep pinching myself to see whether it is just a bad dream.

But this too shall pass and we will learn to adapt and live with yet another danger.

So might as well sit back and enjoy what is happening – we are a few of the lucky ones who are not alone, have a house, food, people who care.

All my adult life, I have longed for a peaceful and quiet holiday where one didn’t even have to answer the doorbell, could get up whenever I wanted, etc, etc. I would have time to read books that I had greedily bought but never could find the time; finish the knitting I started when a friend’s grandchild was on the way but who is now leaving primary school; binge watch all Netflix shows; try out recipes from a cupboard of books.

But since this lockdown, I am discovering so many things about myself – the first being that all this while, I had been deluding myself – actually I am just plain lazy and easily distracted – not finding time is just an excuse. When one has extra time on one’s hands, one does only what one wants.

From the time we are born, our self gets coloured by what we have been told to do or behave, by everybody – parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, friends, work colleagues, our children and even strangers – till ultimately we become the product of all those inputs. And now that I have time to introspect, I sometimes feel I am living with a stranger. Someone who has always felt answerable to another being.

For example, when I read in the middle of the night or binge watch a silly show, this feeling of guilt creeps in even though nobody is watching me. Very difficult to shake off such feelings of discipline.

Maybe, we all need these days to rediscover our real, inner selves and learn to harness and tame the phantoms of our mind who threaten to take over. Let’s build ourselves up mentally and emerge stronger and better.

53. COVID 19 prose by Dr.Krishna Reddy, Alabama, USA.

When the ether was saturated with news of the corona virus – my first thought was of relief that this was not a hemorrhagic fever like Ebola and Marburg.

A few days later I ran numbers in my head – every person infected has a much greater probability of survival than death. I then understood that this is a public health emergency, and for India it was critical to decrease spread due to our deficiency of medical infrastructure.

On further reflection, my disappointment with our political leaders since Independence intensified, sharpened by the thought of the millions of poor who live 4 persons or 6 in a 10 by 10 foot space.

How had their lot not improved in all these years?

I wondered at Nature’s reminder that we could not endlessly violate
our planet and not face consequences as zoonotic illnesses become human ones.

My Mother had her 96th Birthday and I could not see her except on a video call due
to ongoing travel bans. For the first time since 1976, I do not have a definite travel date
to India in the near future. Since Mummy has dementia and is delusional, I hope she
believes she has seen me just a few days previously!

On a happy note – my marriage of 34 years has withstood, thus far, the test of the confinement !

My wish for NO VENTILATOR OR ECMO unless I can verbally consent has been
reinforced. Ken has, yet again, appointed me his executioner if the need arises!

Working from home feels very different – no trying to use an eyebrow pencil to conceal moth eaten looking white/gray brows, no fretting about how unkempt the hair looks.

A dog in the lap and a mouse in the hand are all one needs.

Contagion has stalked humankind and the natural world since the beginning of known time,and this is certainly not the worst. Our species will survive, hopefully with some diminutionof hubris. One thing is certain in my mind – between a simple RNA or DNA viral form and avery complex DNA lifeform, simplicity will win out – but not this time!


54. Finding a Spiritual Meaning by Dr.Kommu Samuel, Tirupati.

Pardon me for not heeding your invitation for your blog, since I am thoroughly confused about the present human tragedy and not equipped with commenting any, after listening to some “radical “scientists like Dr Rashid Butter of USA.

Anyway the humanity is certainly destined to suffer these types of human calamities.

So far in the last century itself, starting from the year 1957 with “Marburg virus disease” (MVD)out breaks in Africa, 8 serious maladies, threatened us apart from 2003 SARS.

Not that the world elite is not ignorant of the threat of Zoonootic diseases, but simply looking the other way. We are good at fancying our fictional products like ” zombie apocalypse” on our silver screens , but never thought of real human tragedies at our door step.

I believe the Creator God, only given the dominion of humans over the lesser beings to respect and enjoy, but not to cause:
(i) “Disruption ” in their existence ,due to human activity to the extent of enjoying “bushmeat trade” (Wuhan)
(ii)”Connection” with intimate association … causing “spill over” , eventually leading to these Pandemics of Zoonotic diseases.

I may not witness in my life time, but the warnings of 2 eventualities of the end by some wise men (i)Nuclear Disaster; (ii) Global warming and eventual disappearance of human race is terrifying for not my sake but for my progeny.

Finally, I hope some sense and responsibility soon prevail on these sociopathic politicians, before it is too late and mother earth vanishes as dust particles into eternity in our cosmos.

Societies at this awakening moment plan for at least enough men, space and material including protective gears for our warriors in the frontline…avoiding conversion of submarines for space and enough space for dignified burial, avoiding any riot like in Chennai in recent times.

I am really worried to die by Covid-19, (i)not because I am afraid, in fact I am happy as I finished the responsibilities in my life at 75 ripe years and death by Covid-19 may not be of much prolonged suffering,…but because of the stigma my kith and kin carry and suffer for long time even after my remains of Corona eaten mortals successfully deposited into the dust from which my Creator hath made me; (ii)enough is enough…it is high time, the global leaders put their heads and resources to prevent further environmental degradation and disaster.


55. Challenging time by John Thomas, England.

I don’t have much to say about COVID 19.

We have not gone out for 4 weeks.

I have been doing a lot of reading about Corona virus and the variation in treatment offered in different countries.

My observation is that in developed countries they depend on protocols produced by the experts. Everything has to be evidence based and doctors are not allowed to deviate from the protocol. This is a big handicap in a pandemic.

In a pandemic where the mortality is over 50 % in hospitalised patients one should not wait for evidence based medical recommendation to evolve. My suggestion is that if a treatment has produced better outcome in one country, it should be tried in other countries.

In the UK the NHS is reluctant to try medication like hydroxychloroquine, high doses of Vitamin D, Remdesivir, BCG etc even when the existing treatment is not improving the mortality.

Further, the debate about the use of mask has not produced a uniform policy.
In the USA they advocate the use of masks, in the UK they say masks are not protective. So, the same virus on either side of the Atlantic is given a different reception by policy makers. The common man will be confused by the disagreement between experts.

This pandemic gives us an unique opportunity to realise that infectious agents do not discriminate between East and West, rich and poor, black and white. The main message I have learnt is that we should all try to improve our immunity to keep this virus at bay.
That will also reduce future epidemics.


56. THE 3 Ss of Success in conquering the Corona Queen’s catastrophe- Dr. Hansa Jayakumar,Maryland,USA

Watching thousands of Flamingos flooding the banks of Mumbai and turning it into a sea of pink, is truly a feast to one’s eyes !

So are dozens of peacocks in rural India, in their rich plumage of green and blue, reclining majestically in the vacant corridors of schools. These are sights to be cherished, far richer than the empty clean roads of India looking like a western tourist spot.

These are the glimpses of the 21st century India, during the Corona invasion, never to be forgotten and to be remembered in the pages of history .

So, is the Covid 19 catastrophe bringing healing to nature or to us?

What then are the 3 Ss of success in conquering the Corona Queen ‘s catastrophe?

As an Anesthesiologist my thoughts flew to the principles of resuscitation.

In Resuscitation of an unconscious person the age old order was ABCD Airway , Breathing, Chest compressions and Drugs. It has now changed to CAB ,circulation, airway, recue breathing and drugs.
This is because we can hold our breath for a minute or two without brain damage, but to starve the brain of blood even for a few minutes could be detrimental.

Let’s revert to the ABCD principle of resuscitation.

What is the airway of humanity and the air we breathe, since the invasion of COVID 19 ?
Is it loaded with anger, anxiety, depression and despair?
Why do we need this social disruption which has plunged even the most prosperous nations into an economic meltdown?

Covid 19, all of a sudden has emerged from a viral lab and invaded us globally and shocked us. It has stunned our thinking, stopped our breathing. The stories are alarming all over the globe. Life suddenly has come to a halt. We are thrown into a lockdown without any warning, any preparation.

No transport, no wages, no food on the table for many, and when you die no loved one to hold your hand or wave goodbye.

The time line of when this would all change is unknown to us.

After all this is just a respiratory disease and needs some ventilation and oxygen and many do recover.

So why this panic?

Because people deteriorate so rapidly within hours and need intensive ventilation, at times for weeks putting the medical team into enormous stress and economic carnage hospitals had to be built in record time in some nations. Navy ships had to be mobilized as extra beds. The elderly and those with co morbidity, even with a mere cough and fever came back as corpses.

In India, the enraged relatives blamed the doctors, not realizing they were putting their young lives at risk to treat them.Patients were transported from place to place for need of equipment. Burial sites were denied. While as humanity we are still struggling to breathe and clear the airway of all toxic, negative thoughts, the economic meltdown hits us. Many are turning to alcohol, drugs and suicide.

We choke. Grumble . Hit our fists in the air saying, what is it that’s killing us ? Is it the virus or hunger We blame the race, and decision makers.

Our boats in the stormy sea are on the verge of breakdown for some. For others in different boats in the same stormy sea, it may be a time to reflect, relax mend relationships within family. Yet no one can survive this storm for long. Its startling to realize how fragile humanity is even in the hands of an invisible microorganism.

Its then we look up and breathe the pure air from heaven. It’s when we are boxed in with no hope, we look up.
Our vision clears and we see the pure love of God.
The creator, our Lord is with us in the boat.
No storm can topple the Master of sky, storm and sea.
His presence, wisdom will help us conquer the roughest waves. Antibodies, Plasma therapy, vaccines—He will help us figure it out. As the air clears hope begins to bloom.

The CPR then begins.

We see the ‘haves’ helping the ‘have nots’ crossing religion, race and social status.

I recently saw a clipping where a doctor Uma Madhusudan of Indian origin from Mysore ,now settled in USA being honoured for her service to COVID 19 patients in South Windsor hospital . It was a deeply touching tribute of more than 30 cars passing her house waving to her with placards of Thank you and cheering her.

We look at the Indian diet with all its spices ,ginger, providing immunity far more than any other diet. Our Rasam stands far superior to all cough syrups to clear any throat invaded and bruised by any virus.

Now it’s the time for drugs. Strangely the much debated drug Hydroxy Chloroquine, a wonder drug for many in the USA, and other nations is a household name to India . When Tipu Sultan in1799 was defeated by the British, the British soldiers could not put up with the mosquito menace. European scientists discovered Quinine, a very bitter compound. It was given as ‘tonic water’ to boost their immunity. This tonic water with a little gin became a popular cocktail among the soldiers. It held malaria at bay. It was from that, the word ‘Tonic’ emerged in India!.

Yes there is hope as we clear the Airway of our communication with the Almighty from all toxicity, breathe the fresh air of His positivity, begin the CPR of turning to help others, and resort to find ways of cure. We certainly will conquer the Corona Queen’s catastrophe!


57.Advice for the elderly -Anonymous.

My thoughts:

1.Stay in isolation/lockdown mode till a vaccine is developed.

This may happen as early as autumn of 2020.
(https://www.news18.com/news/world/coronavirus-vaccine-trial-cure-oxford-university-2583007.html) or may take upto 18 months (Bill Gates)

2. If you take the precautions advised, you can lose the fear.

3. Self Care. To survive isolation, make a routine with timings, for the entire day,
and follow it strictly.
In this routine there must be times for a) exercise; b) cleaning and
tidying the house/room; c) personal -bathing, washing clothes, ironing; d)
cooking and cleaning up; e) mealtimes; f)anything else in your daily life
that is a routine activity – give it a time, and do it;g) relaxation and entertainment on TV, mobile etc; h) talk to a friend/ relative, whatsapp group daily and i) bedtime.

Adhere to your routine strictly and Time will fly.


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